It’s been a huge month. And it’s only the 5th! Had a visit from a cousin I only met once when I was 2, so that didn’t count. Got to ask a hundred questions and learn more about my dad’s side of the family. My dad died when I was 11, and we rarely saw anyone from that side of the clan, though my mom kept Ma Bell in business chatting with his mom and sibs over the years. I was so excited to learn more about my aunt, my grandmother, my cousins. Really, my heart is full.
This was a very big deal for me, as a person, as a little girl who lost her daddy too soon, and maybe someday, as a writer. But it’s a lot to process and there are still so many questions to ask and stories to hear. I have decided that it’s time to go into absorption mode. Steep and stew a bit. I have a lot to process and process I will. For once I will let up on “doing” and just sit with it all a bit. And since I can’t really type very easily with a splint on my left hand (yes, I have been very accident prone this year), it’s a good time to just be.
Being and letting happen. Two things we don’t do well in our culture any more. At least I know I don’t. My cousin’s visit prompted my mom to dig up a pack of articles and letters my uncle had once sent her and the other sibs, family lore I must have read when it arrived but had forgotten about. Reading letters from my grandfather and great grandfather (interesting that the men in my clan were such letter writers–I don’t know that any men in my birth or marriage families write more than emails), I see a people who described more than analyzed, who lived life without self-pity or much fuss, and they were hard workers. My great-grandparents ran a boarding house, a restaurant, and a bakery. They were busy, exhausted people, I’m guessing, but what the paper had to say about my great-grandma when she died? That she was gentle and compassionate and sweet. What a beautiful legacy.
I also learned that my grandfather, who was a wood shop teacher, wrote a poem for a conservation effort to keep a developer from building a resort on Pine Island in Rib Lake, Wisconsin. His poem was published in the local paper and I guess the developer was sent packing. So my grandfather was a conservationist poet whose poem inspired a community. I am so proud of him.
I also learned that my grandfather was the kind of teacher who inspired his students. My cousins had a business professor who became a teacher because of the way my grandfather taught and inspired him.
As I mentioned, I can’t type very easily right now and that, too, is a gift. I learned a lesson about slowing down when I sliced my finger open with a grapefruit knife the other day. (If you’re going to cut your finger, this was the way to do it. I missed the artery by 3 mm and the nerve and tendon, too. Lucky strike!) Five stitches and a splint are a bit cumbersome, but they are a gift. A gift of slowing down. And so I will use this tool like the monkey that I am. I will use it to slowly open the gift of reconnection with my clan.